Displaying items by tag: animal protection

Born Free urges greater protection for Africa’s lions following confirmation of catastrophic population declines

International science body highlights dire status of King of the Jungle


Following the release yesterday of a lion assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA are urging immediate international action to halt catastrophic recent declines in lion populations across Africa.

In its most up-to-date assessment of the species, IUCN, the world’s oldest and largest global environmental scientific organisation, reported devastating reductions in lion populations across much of the African continent. The new assessment revealed:

  • The number of lions across Africa has reduced by approximately 42% over the past 21 years (approximately three lion generations, 1993-2014)
  • Excluding Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, lions across the rest of Africa have declined by an average 60%
  • In West Africa, the declines suggest lions should be classified as Critically Endangered
  • Lions have disappeared altogether from at least 12, possibly up to 16, African countries in recent years.

“The IUCN reassessment confirms what we have known for some time: that lions are in serious decline across much of Africa,” said Adam M. Roberts, Chief Executive of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA.

“The trade data suggests that international trade in lion parts and products is putting pressure on these vulnerable lion populations, which they clearly can’t sustain. We call on the international community to increase the protection for lions from the impact of trade through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to issue its long-overdue final rule on listing the lion as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.”

Trade in lions and lion parts has been increasing. According to the official CITES trade database, from 2009 to 2013 the total number of lions and lion parts exported doubled compared to the previous five year period. The figures reveal particularly worrying increases in the trade in lion bones and skeletons (presumably to supply demand for Asian traditional medicines and tonics), skins, and trophies from captive bred animals.

“These iconic animals can’t wait,” added Roberts. “Lions used to roam all over Africa, west Asia and even southern Europe. Now we risk seeing them disappear from much of their remaining sub-Saharan African range. We cannot sit by and watch this species disappear under our watch.”

Born Free is working with the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and African lion experts to improve collaboration between African range states on lion conservation, identify the reasons for the reported declines, and help range states to reverse them.

About Born Free

The  Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to   compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect  threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. We rescue animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care.

Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. Our high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. For more information about Born Free please visit: www.bornfree.org.uk

Ban is critical to save animals from extinction

Washington D.C., June 8, 2015 -- A coalition of leading animal welfare organizations including Born Free USA, MSPCA-Angell, Zoo New England, International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, have joined together to encourage the passage of legislation to ban the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn in Massachusetts.

Senate Bill 440 and House Bill 1275, introduced by Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Lori Ehrlich, would ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts, a critical step in the fight to save these animals from extinction. Ninety-six Massachusetts legislators have signed on as co-sponsors.

African elephants and rhinos are being killed at an unprecedented rate as demand for their tusks and horns continues to grow. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory — representing the worst mass slaughter of elephants since the international ivory trade was banned in 1989.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially. The U.S. is a major ivory market, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to take action. Senator Lewis and Representative Ehrlich's timely action addresses the market for these products, which is a crucial part of ending the slaughter.”

“Massachusetts has the opportunity to lead during this critical time for elephants and rhinos. By banning the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horns, Massachusetts can also raise consumer awareness, reduce poaching and be an example for other states and other countries,” said Cynthia Mead, Zoo New England executive vice president of external affairs and programming.

"Although this problem might seem like only an African tragedy, our actions here at home make a huge difference abroad. Elephants are the only ones who need ivory; rhinos are the only ones who need their horns. Massachusetts doesn't need either,” said Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO.

“With this alarming rate of poaching, African elephants could be gone from the wild in a few decades,” said Iris Ho, wildlife program manager for Humane Society International. “The situation is also devastating for rhinos as all five remaining rhino species are threatened with extinction. The very true possibility of disappearance of these majestic animals over human greed for vanity items is a moral and ecological disaster.”

As documented in Born Free USA’s groundbreaking reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa, poaching is not only a wildlife conservation and animal welfare issue but also directly linked to transnational criminal syndicates. Furthermore, the scale of poaching today supplies a $7-10 billion wildlife trafficking enterprise that is intertwined with terrorism and government corruption.  These groups use poaching as a substantial source of funding for their brutal activities, which also threatens U.S. national security.

“The proposed legislation would neither criminalize possession of ivory already legally owned by Massachusetts residents, nor would it prohibit inheritance or noncommercial ivory gifts,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell.  “But it would help stop the killing, trafficking and demand that is driving these iconic species to extinction—and that is essential if they are to have a chance at survival.”

New York and New Jersey passed similar laws last year.  A host of states, including, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont have similar pending legislation to shut down the ivory and rhino horn trade in their jurisdictions.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Congressional Animal Protection Caucus helps celebrate shelter animals and rescue groups

WHAT: The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) yesterday joined the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus in hosting “Paws for Love,” an animal adoption event to honor shelter animals and rescue organizations across the country.

“Paws for Celebration invites Republicans and Democrats to come together to celebrate the millions of lovable homeless dogs and cats currently waiting to be adopted,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Animal welfare is a bi-partisan issue, and we stand united in our appreciation of the vital services provided by the thousands of community animal shelters nationwide.”

WHO: Photo 1: Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Richard Patch, vice president of federal affairs for the ASPCA
Photo 2: Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations
Photo 3: Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), holding “Butter,” an adoptable dog available at Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation
Photo 4: Congressional staffers greet an adoptable dog at “Paws for Celebration”
Photo 5: A puppy enjoying “Paws for Celebration”

ALL CAPTIONS SHOULD READ: “ASPCA Paws for Celebration Adoption Event on Capitol Hill”



About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and Animal Protection of New Mexico are dismayed over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent decision to approve an application for a horse slaughter facility at Valley Meat Company LLC in Roswell, N.M. on the grounds that killing horses for human consumption is inhumane and creates a serious health risk to consumers. Similar applications are pending for Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, Mo., and Responsible Transportation LLC in Sigourney, Iowa, and could be approved as early as Monday.

Valley Meat is slated to be the first facility in the U.S. to be green-lighted to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed after Congress voted to eliminate funding for horse meat inspections. This surprising move to reopen a horse slaughter plant defies common sense, given Congress’s recent votes to eliminate funding for such inspections and the scandal in the European Union, where horse meat was found to be mislabeled as beef in prepared food products. On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee voted to include language prohibiting the use of tax dollars for horse slaughter inspections in its Agriculture Appropriations bill, and on June 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of including the same language in its version of the Appropriations bill. These bills are both expected to move for floor action in July, signaling revocation of the USDA’s inspection abilities in a matter of months.

“The writing is on the wall – Americans don’t want our horses slaughtered, here or in any other country. Moving ahead with a government program to fund horse slaughter inspections is a cruel, reckless and fiscally irresponsible move,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations.  “Recent polling shows that 70 percent of New Mexicans, along with the overwhelming majority of Americans, are opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption. Given the recent firestorm of concern and outrage over horse meat entering the food supply in Europe, this decision is shocking. The USDA is knowingly diverting tax dollars from programs that protect American consumers to programs that jeopardize them. It is time for Congress to take action to prevent American horses from suffering this terrible fate and stop horse slaughter in the U.S. once and for all.”

Horse slaughter is inherently cruel and often erroneously compared to humane euthanasia. The methods used to slaughter horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses are difficult to stun and often remain conscious during their butchering and dismemberment. Whether slaughter occurs in the U.S. or abroad, these equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest, and in dangerously overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a grisly foreign industry that produces unsafe food for consumers.

“I am baffled and greatly disappointed that the USDA has chosen to approve this application despite strong opposition from the state of New Mexico, the U.S. Congress and the American public,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI.  “Given an earlier statement from USDA Secretary Vilsack opposing horse slaughter and calling for alternatives and recent votes in Congress against this practice we had hoped no plant would be allowed to open.  It just means we will have to redouble our efforts to pass the SAFE Act which will ban slaughter and ensure our horses are safe from this cruel and predatory industry.”

“New Mexicans reject the idea of a horse slaughter plant in our state,” said Lisa Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection of New Mexico. “Horses are a valuable part of our heritage, and we have worked hard to develop a robust safety net for them, not condemn them to slaughter.”

“Despite the federal government’s decision to legalize horse slaughter for human consumption, I believe creating a horse slaughtering industry in New Mexico is wrong and I am strongly opposed,” said New Mexico Governor, Susana Martinez. “Like the overwhelming majority of Americans across the country, New Mexicans oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Not only is there not a domestic demand for horsemeat, the act of slaughter itself is considered inhumane by experts, given that a horse’s biology makes them difficult to stun, leaving them conscious during the slaughter process.”

“Granting an inspection of the proposed horse slaughtering facility does not resolve the issues of potential violation of New Mexico State requirements,” said New Mexico’s Attorney General, Gary K. King. “Our office has expressed concern that under current practices it is unlikely that the plant can show that it meets the requirements of the New Mexico Food Act in their manufacture and delivery of horse meat for human consumption. The plant will also likely be required to meet State environmental standards for their discharges.”

“As a veterinarian, natural resource manager, and someone who has had the great good fortune to grow up with and around horses, I am very concerned about their health and safety. If a horse is hurt, terminally ill, or has no chance to find a loving home, then humane euthanasia is an important option,” said New Mexico State Land Commissioner, Ray Powell, D.V.M. “I am told the USDA is considering the proposal to open a horse slaughtering facility in our state. Since we do not have enough unwanted horses in New Mexico to make this economically viable, it means that horses would be trucked in from across the nation. We do not have the safeguards and oversight in place to ensure their humane handling, transport, and euthanasia. New Mexico can do much better by these intelligent and gentle creatures, and I strongly oppose this ill-conceived proposal.”

The decision to allow facilities to slaughter horses adds further to the burden on U.S. taxpayers at a time when spending cuts associated with the sequester could curtail food safety inspections for U.S. meat products. Additionally, with the opening of a horse slaughter plant in the U.S., it will be more difficult to prevent the kind of comingling between horse meat and beef products that has occurred in Europe.

In March, U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., introduced the Safeguard American Foods Export (SAFE) Act (S. 541/ H.R. 1094), bipartisan legislation that will prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. AWI, APNM and the ASPCA urge Congress to swiftly pass the SAFE Act to protect horses and consumers.



About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

About the Animal Welfare Institute
The Animal Welfare Institute (www.awionline.org) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people.  AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and other important animal protection news.

About Animal Protection of New Mexico
Animal Protection of New Mexico has been challenging historic and widespread animal cruelty in New Mexico since 1979.


Adam M. Roberts

Executive Vice President, Born Free USA (www.bornfreeusa.org)

Leading expert in captive wildlife issues and compassionate conservation

Adam M. Roberts is executive vice president of Born Free USA (www.bornfreeusa.org) and is based in Washington, DC. He helped found the organization in 2002 to bring the UK-based Born Free Foundation's message of compassionate conservation to the American public.

Adam has significant expertise and over two decades of experience in international wildlife trade and captive wild animals, and serves on the board of directors of the Species Survival Network (www.ssn.org) where he chairs their press and financial committees, the bear working group, and the animals in captivity working group. SSN is dedicated to ensuring that the international wildlife trade does not cause overexploitation of animals and plants. SNN currently includes 82 member organizations from 33 countries.

He is also a founding member of the board and current chairman of the board of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (www.sanctuaryfederation.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing species-specific humane standards of care for animals held in wildlife and farm animal sanctuaries, and accrediting facilities globally based on these standards.

In 2003, Adam founded The $10 Club, a charity to fund poverty alleviation projects in developing countries. He runs the organization singlehandedly, and as a volunteer. To date, the organization has supported work in more than 50 countries and has given out a quarter of a million dollars in grant awards.

He began his animal protection career in Washington, DC in 1991.

Adam has written over 50 articles for various medical, legal, scientific, and advocacy organization publications around the world. He is a frequent lecturer/speaker at national and international conferences on issues concerning captive wild animals, compassionate conservation and the protection of all animals.

He is interviewed regularly by the media about animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues. Among recent interviews: CNN/HLN, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Reuters, New York Daily News, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, and more.

He is a graduate of Vassar College, and resides in Washington D.C. with his wife, two children, two dogs, five cats and two guinea pigs.

Awardees include law enforcement, prosecutors and state agencies committed to rescuing animals from harm and enforcing animal protection laws

(Sept. 12, 2012)—The Humane Society of the United States is presenting its 2012 Humane Law Enforcement Awards to authorities across the country who have taken an exemplary stand against animal cruelty. It is the fourth year The HSUS has presented Humane Law Enforcement Awards and this year’s awardees are from Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, California, Florida, Virginia and West Virginia.

"The Humane Society of the United States celebrates the work of law enforcement to crack down on animal fighting, puppy mills, the illegal wildlife trade, poaching, and other forms of cruelty and abuse,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “The 2012 Humane Law Enforcement Award recipients exemplify the best of law enforcement in protecting animals from needless violence and harm, and we are privileged to honor them.”

Awardees for 2012 are Caldwell County, N.C., Animal Control; Alachua County, Fla., Animal Services and Alachua County, Fla. Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Hunt; Galveston, Texas, Police Department Sgt. Joel Caldwell; Calhoun County, W.Va., Sheriff Carl Ballengee; Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Fish and Game for Operation Cyberwild.

The 2012 Humane Law Enforcement Awards recipients:

About the Caldwell County, N.C., Animal Control award: Caldwell County Animal Control Officers Greg Greene and Shanon Foster received an anonymous tip in June 2011 reporting the possible neglect of dogs living at a Hudson, N.C., residence. Greene and Foster investigated, called on The HSUS for help removing the animals, and seized about 300 dogs--mostly Pomeranians and other small-breed dogs--from crowded, feces-encrusted enclosures. Rescued animals were placed in shelters, rescues or homes, and the owners of the puppy mill pleaded guilty to 104 counts of animal cruelty.

About the Alachua County, Fla., Animal Services and Alachua County Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Hunt award: In July 2011, Alachua County Animal Services led the successful raid of pseudo-sanctuary Haven Acres, which resulted in the rescue of about 700 cats who were found living in deplorable conditions. After the rescue, which was supported by The HSUS, Alachua Animal Services provided ongoing veterinary and staff support for the animals. Both Haven Acres owners pleaded no contest to 47 counts of felony animal cruelty and both were sentenced to 15 years of probation, prohibited from owning or rescuing cats and ordered to pay restitution to The HSUS. All adoptable and treatable cats were placed up for adoption and were paired with loving caretakers, including 258 cats adopted at an HSUS adoption event in Gainesville.

About the award for Galveston, Texas, Police Sgt. Joel Caldwell: Caldwell organized a Dec. 15, 2011 raid in Santa Fe, Texas, of a facility that was illegally breeding roosters for cockfighting. Police and HSUS staff, who provided the tip to local authorities, found more than 350 fighting roosters on the property; Caldwell charged the owner with two counts of felony cockfighting and one misdemeanor charge alleging he bred the birds with the intention to fight them—the first officer to use a just-enacted anti-cockfighting state law. Caldwell also helped to create a bigger animal services department for the county and brought together city, county and state animal protection officials for a forum to discuss improving animal welfare in the community.

About the award for Calhoun County, W.Va., Sheriff Carl Ballengee: In December 2010, Ballengee, who was, at the time, a chief deputy for the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department, discovered 19 neglected dogs behind a rural home in Arnoldsburg, W.Va. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the property owner had died, inadvertently leaving the dogs to starve and suffer in severely cold temperatures at what turned out to be a massive dogfighting organization. With no animal shelter in his county, Ballengee made pleas to numerous animal organizations and stayed with the dogs while providing food and care. After The HSUS helped rescue the animals, Ballengee continued to sniff out other dogfighters in his community, leading to the state’s first felony arrest for dogfighting.

About the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks award: In January 2012, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks seized three tigers, three cougars, two leopards, two wolf hybrids, and a Macaque monkey from Collins Zoo in Collins, Miss. The action came after a 2009 HSUS undercover investigation of the roadside zoo and legal petitions filed by HSUS. The agency worked with The HSUS for months on addressing the illegal display of dangerous animals, and arranging placement for animals they planned to seize. A few of the rescued animals now reside in permanent sanctuary at The HSUS’ Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas.

About the award for Operation Cyberwild, an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game; Prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office: In summer 2011, U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agents and a California Department of Fish and Game warden made undercover purchases of wildlife, including endangered species, being sold illegally over the Internet. Forty-six items were seized including an endangered tiger skin rug, a migratory bird mount, a live migratory bird, an elephant skin foot stool, a leopard skin and a bear skin. In an innovative, first-of-its kind partnership, six California-based volunteers from The HSUS assisted with the operation by producing some of the leads that enabled investigators to quickly make contact with sellers, saving significant time and agency resources for field investigations.

About the award for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has made a significant difference for the enforcement of animal protection laws in the Commonwealth. Since 2011, his office responded to more than 80 requests for assistance from Virginia animal control, law enforcement and commonwealth’s attorneys in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. He is also helping to develop an animal cruelty and fighting curriculum with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; participates on the animal cruelty committee of the National Association of Attorneys General; and committed resources to combat the illegal sale of wildlife, animal fighting and animal cruelty.

The Humane Society of the United States looks forward to future collaborations with law enforcement across the country. We are privileged to assist those who serve to make our communities safer, and together, we can help end the needless violence and neglect inflicted upon the creatures who share our world.

Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our “HumaneTV” app.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.


Olympia, WA: Animal protection (and workers’ rights) ranked highest among a list of eight social causes, according to the latest Animal Tracker survey from the Humane Research Council (HRC).

HRC conducted a representative survey of U.S. adults regarding attitudes toward various social justice causes and animal protection issues. The Animal Tracker survey found a high level of support for the animal protection movement. In fact, animal protection and workers’ rights enjoyed more support from U.S. adults than other social justice causes.

More respondents rated their opinion of these movements as “favorable” than any other social movement listed on the survey, including tax reform, homeless advocacy, immigration reform, gay/lesbian rights, environmentalism, and the pro-life (anti-abortion) cause. Further, the animal protection movement is the only cause for which support has not decreased significantly since 2008, the first year the Animal Tracker was conducted.

“The survey results clearly show that people understand the importance of animal protection and support the good work being done by animal advocates,” said the Humane Research Council’s Executive Director, Che Green. “After decades of struggling for recognition, the animal protection cause is now considered one of the paramount social justice issues of modern times.”

The survey also revealed that people are most likely to find veterinarians credible on issues of animal welfare and animal protection, and least likely to find attorneys, businesses or corporations credible sources of information. Though animal protection is important to many U.S. adults, there is still a lack of knowledge about some issues facing animals. At least one-quarter of U.S. adults do not know or have an opinion about the adequacy of laws protecting animals in various situations, including animals in pounds and shelters, endangered species, and animals raised for food.

The 2012 Animal Tracker survey was administered to 1,072 U.S. adults. The survey was fielded between March 23rd and April 2nd using the Knowledge Networks panel, which combines online and offline survey methods. All results were adjusted statistically to accurately represent the U.S. adult population.

The Humane Research Council is a nonprofit research organization that helps animal advocates inform and improve their efforts. HRC conducts independent research and provides resources and services to animal advocates. More online at www.HumaneResearch.org.

(March 12, 2012) ― The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, has ranked state laws protecting dogs at commercial dog breeding facilities and found that Virginia has the best anti-puppy mill laws, while six states fell at the bottom of the list. The HSUS reviewed laws regulating commercial dog breeding facilities and protecting consumers who purchase sick puppies to determine the best and worst state laws. 

Virginia earned the top spot with the strongest protections for puppy mill dogs and for consumers who purchase dogs from pet stores. Pennsylvania, Oregon, New Hampshire and Washington round out the top five states. Earning the lowest scores are Mississippi, Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, South Dakota and Alabama.

“Several states have made great strides in recent years, protecting dogs and consumers from the abuse and cruelty that is prevalent among large-scale commercial breeding operations,” says Melanie Kahn, senior director of the Puppy Mills Campaign for The HSUS. “Too many states still allow these puppy factories to operate with minimal or no oversight, resulting in suffering for the dogs and families that purchase these often sick puppies.”

Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oregon, New Hampshire and Washington all made the top five because of their strong standards of care, regulation of both small and large commercial breeding facilities, and consumer protections. Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire all require unannounced inspections of commercial dog breeding facilities two times per year. Oregon, Washington and Virginia all prohibit anyone from owning more than 50 breeding dogs.

The laws in states earning the lowest ratings - Mississippi, Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho and South Dakota - all lack oversight of commercial dog breeding operations, don’t require any basic standard of care, and do not provide any protection for consumers purchasing a dog from a pet store. In North Dakota, Idaho and South Dakota, animal cruelty is only a misdemeanor charge, not a felony crime as it is in 47 other states. Felony cruelty provisions in other states can help provide some protection for dogs at commercial dog breeding facilities if law enforcement agencies have the resources to investigate and enforce the anti-cruelty laws.

In 2011 HSUS experts and supporters helped to pass seven new state laws and regulations to crack down on puppy mills. Lawmakers in several states are considering passage of new laws protecting dogs and consumers in 2012.

In 2010 voters in Missouri approved Proposition B, also known as The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, only to have their state legislature controversially supersede Proposition B by enacting legislation that stopped short of providing dogs with all of the protections the voters intended them to receive. The new law was strong enough to earn Missouri a sixth place ranking – an improvement over the old law, but weaker than the second place ranking that Proposition B would have provided had the legislature not interfered.   

The HSUS is working with lawmakers to strengthen laws in states that need improvement while simultaneously reaching out to state agencies across the country to provide guidance or on-site assistance for dogs removed from substandard facilities.

States were assigned points based on key elements either addressed or not addressed in their laws, including: mandatory licensure, criteria for coverage, frequency of inspections, caps on the number of dogs an operator can keep, the standards of care mandated for each dog, consumer protection provisions, and the severity of penalties for violations.  


  • Seven states enacted laws to crack down on puppy mills in 2011; California, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. Hawaii legislators passed a resolution urging further study, and a new law is now pending. 
  • Since 2008, 26 new laws have been enacted in 21 states.
  • The HSUS recommends never purchasing a puppy from a pet store or Internet site, or from any breeder you have not carefully screened in person.
  • Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care; live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction; and are confined inside cramped wire-floored cages for life. There is little regard for the dogs' health or any existing genetic conditions that may be passed on to the puppies.
  • Breeding dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles and are typically confined for years on end, without ever becoming part of a family.
  • The HSUS estimates that 2 million to 4 million puppy mill puppies are sold each year in the United States.
  • The HSUS recommends never purchasing a puppy from a pet store because puppies sold in pet stores typically come from puppy mills, including facilities where sanitation problems and disease outbreaks are common.
  • The HSUS encourages consumers who are ready to add a puppy to their family to visit an animal shelter or breed rescue group, or purchase only from a responsible breeder they have screened in person. For more information please see humanesociety.org/puppy.

Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our “HumaneTV” app.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org

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